“The internet in this country costs too damn much,” according to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who released a plan on Friday to spend $150 billion on high-speed universal internet service.
Sanders’ sweeping plan dubs high-speed internet service a “basic human right” that should be handled like the New Deal treated electricity at the beginning of the 20th Century.
“High-speed internet service must be treated as the new electricity — a public utility that everyone deserves as a basic human right,” according to the 2020 candidate’s plan. “And getting online at home, at school, or at work shouldn’t involve long waits, frustrating phone calls, and complex contracts and fees meant to trap and trick consumers.”
Similar to his campaign rhetoric, Sanders’ plan blasts telecom companies for their alleged “greed” and calls for breaking up “internet service provider and cable monopolies.” His plan would also block service providers from providing content.
“With no incentive to innovate or invest, these conglomerates charge sky-high internet prices to reap profits from consumers, and they collect government subsidies to provide service to rural households while still leaving millions of Americans unconnected,” his plan reads.
Other major reforms include eliminating data caps and throttling, instructing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to force companies to provide affordable rates, working with Congress to codify net neutrality, and requiring that internet service providers offer a minimum standard of broadband speed.
Friday’s proposal was just the latest large-scale guarantee that Sanders promised through sweeping government action. Since announcing his candidacy, Sanders has pledged to provide universal health care, jobs, college tuition, housing and cancellation of medical debt.
Critics have pointed out the large price tags for these plans. Conservatives, in particular, compare Sanders’ government intervention to socialist countries.
Sanders’ plan, however, vows to “dramatically lower costs.”
“The internet was invented in America,” his plan reads. “We should be the world leader in providing fast, affordable service. We must also invest in digital adoption and literacy, ensuring when affordable service is provided, all can fully utilize the benefits.”